Trafficking in Persons Report 2010
SUDAN (Tier 3)
Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or who are internally displaced, are trafficked into domestic servitude in homes throughout the country; some of these girls are subsequently sexually abused by male occupants or forced to engage in commercial sex acts. Sudanese girls also engage in prostitution within the country, at times with the assistance of third parties, including law enforcement officials. Sudanese women and girls are subjected to involuntary domestic servitude in Middle Eastern countries, such as Bahrain and Qatar, and to forced prostitution in European countries. Sudanese children transit Yemen to Saudi Arabia for use in forced begging. Sudanese gang members reportedly coerce other young Sudanese refugees into prostitution in nightclubs in Egypt. Sudanese children may be exploited in prostitution in Sudanese refugee camps located in eastern Chad.
Sudan is a transit and destination country for Ethiopian and Eritrean women subjected to involuntary domestic servitude in Sudan and Middle Eastern countries, as well as a destination for Ethiopians and Somalis victimized by forced prostitution. Agents recruit young women from Ethiopia’s Oromia region with promises of high-paying employment as domestic workers in Sudan, only to force them into prostitution in brothels in Khartoum or near Sudan’s oil fields and mining camps.
Thousands of Dinka women and children, and a lesser number of children from the Nuba tribe, were abducted and subsequently enslaved by members of the Missiriya and Rizeigat tribes during the concluded north-south civil war. A portion of those enslaved continue to remain with their captors. While there have been no known new abductions of Dinka by members of Baggara tribes in a number of years, inter-tribal abductions continue between African tribes in southern Sudan, especially in Jonglei and Eastern Equatorial States; hundreds of children were abducted in 2009 during cattle raids and conflicts between rival tribes.
A research study published in January 2009 documented that, as part of the Darfur conflict, government-supported militia, like the Janjaweed and the Popular Defense Forces, together with elements of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), systematically abducted civilians between 2003 and 2007, mostly from the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups, for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Abducted women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation and forced domestic and agricultural labor, while men and boys are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, herding, portering goods, and involuntary domestic servitude; some of these individuals remained captive at the end of the reporting period. It is unknown whether any such new abductions occurred during 2009.
Forcible recruitment of adults and particularly children by virtually all armed groups, including government forces, involved in Sudan’s concluded north-south civil war was previously commonplace; an estimated 10,000 children still associated with various armed militias in southern Sudan await demobilization and reintegration into their communities of origin. Although the high command of the Government of Southern Sudan’s (GOSS) army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), committed to preventing recruitment of and releasing all children from its ranks, approximately 1,200 children, both boys and girls, remained with the group in December 2009.
Sudanese children are conscripted, at times through abduction, and exploited by armed groups – including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), all Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) factions, Janjaweed militia, and Chadian opposition forces – in Sudan’s waning conflict in Darfur. The JEM continued to forcibly recruit children in 2009, as did other rebel and Janjaweed militia, albeit on a lower level than in previous years. Re-recruitment of demobilized child soldiers continues to be a problem in Blue Nile State.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to harbor enslaved Sudanese, Congolese, and Ugandan children in southern Sudan for use as cooks, porters, and combatants; some of these children are also taken back and forth across borders into Central African Republic or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN/OCHA reported at least 197 LRA-related new abductions in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el-Ghazal Provinces between January and November 2009.
The Government of National Unity (GNU) of Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government took some steps to enact relevant legislation and demobilize child soldiers during the reporting period, combating human trafficking through law enforcement, protection, or prevention measures was not a priority. The GNU did not acknowledge that forced labor or forced prostitution exist within the country. The Sudanese government neither published data regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking during the year nor responded to requests to provide information for this report.
Recommendations for Sudan: Acknowledge the existence of a multi-faceted human trafficking problem; enact a comprehensive legal regime to define and address human trafficking crimes and harmonize various existing legal statutes; increase efforts to investigate suspected human trafficking cases, prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict trafficking offenders; establish an official process for law enforcement officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups and refer them for assistance; demobilize all remaining child soldiers from the ranks of governmental armed forces, as well as those of aligned militias; launch a public awareness campaign to educate government officials and the general public on the nature and dangers of human trafficking; take steps to identify and provide protective services to all types of trafficking victims found within the country, particularly those exploited in domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation; and make a much stronger effort, through a comprehensive policy approach that involves all vested parties, to identify, retrieve, and reintegrate abductees who remain in situations of enslavement.
The government’s anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were negligible during the reporting period; it did not investigate or prosecute any suspected trafficking cases and had little ability to establish authority or a law enforcement presence in some regions. The Criminal Act of 1991 does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though its Articles 155, 156, and 163 criminalize operating a place of prostitution, inducing or abducting someone to engage in prostitution (seduction), and forced labor, respectively. Penalties prescribed under these statutes – of up to five years’ imprisonment for brothel keeping and seduction, and one year’s imprisonment or a fine for forced labor – are neither sufficiently stringent nor commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Nevertheless, no trafficker has ever been prosecuted under these articles. In January 2010, the GNU National Assembly enacted the Child Act of 2008. This Act prohibits, but does not prescribe punishments for, forced child labor, child prostitution and sex trafficking, and the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into armed forces or groups; it includes provisions, however, for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children victimized by such crimes. Some states, such as Southern Kordofan, instituted their own Child Act based on the national law. The Sudan Armed Forces Act of 2007 prohibits the act of recruiting children under 18 years of age, as well as abduction and enslavement; the act prescribes penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment for child recruitment and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for enslavement. The Southern Sudan Child Act of 2008 prohibits the recruitment and use of children for military or paramilitary activities and prescribes punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment for such crimes. The Southern Sudan Penal Code Act prohibits and prescribes punishments of up to seven years’ imprisonment for unlawful compulsory labor, including abduction or transfer of control over a person for such purposes; the Act also criminalizes the buying or selling of a child for the purpose of prostitution and prescribes a punishment of up to 14 years’ imprisonment. In 2009, the Southern Sudan Ministry of Labor drafted an omnibus Labor Act to further protect against forced and child labor; it was not passed during the most recent legislative session. The government neither documented its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, if any, nor provided specialized anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, prosecutorial, and judicial personnel during the year.
The GNU made only minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the past year, and these efforts focused primarily on the demobilization of child soldiers. The government did not publicly acknowledge that children are exploited in prostitution or involuntary domestic servitude in Sudan nor did it take steps to identify and provide protective services to such victims. The government did not employ a system for proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations or a referral process to transfer victims to organizations providing care. The GNU and the GOSS provided little to no protection for victims of trafficking crimes; Sudan has few victim care facilities readily accessible to trafficking victims and the government did not provide access to legal, medical, or psychological services. Police child and family protection units in Khartoum, Western Darfur, Northern Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan, and Gedaref States offered legal aid and psychosocial support to some victims of abuse and sexual violence during the year; these units were not fully operational due to lack of staff and equipment, and it is unknown whether they provided services to trafficking victims. In late 2009 and early 2010, however, at least 36 abducted children were identified and freed from their captors following negotiations led by county and state officials in Jonglei State. Local, county, and state officials forged partnerships with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), UNICEF, and an international NGO to return the children to their home areas and reunite them with their families. The government did not encourage victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes or provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. During the reporting period, the government punished some trafficking victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Though it pardoned and released more than 100 children associated with the JEM in the previous reporting period, the government sentenced six child soldiers to death in 2009 for participating in JEM’s May 2008 attack on Omdurman.
Since April 2009, the Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC), with UNICEF support, identified and registered 134 child soldiers in SPLA barracks in the towns of Torit, Mapel, Wunyik, Duar, Panpandiar, Quffah, and Yafta. In July 2009, the SPLA demobilized five children in Duar, followed by 43 children in Mapel in September. In January 2010, the SPLA 8th Division in Panpandiar released 10 children to the care of UNMIS and UNICEF. In addition, the SPLA reported the demobilization in early 2010 of one child in Nasir, 15 in Panuarang (Upper Nile State), 20 in New Kush, and 15 from the SPLA General Headquarters. None of the 73 children identified in Wunyik were registered or released due to lack of cooperation by the corresponding SPLA division. The SSDDRC, UNICEF, and an international NGO rehabilitated a compound in Malualkon to serve as an interim care center providing accommodation to children demobilized in Mapel and Wunyik. In November 2009, the SPLA signed an action plan committing itself to end the use of child soldiers and ensure their release and reintegration within one year. The plan prescribes punishment for those within the SPLA who recruit or use children, establishes child protection units within its ranks, and removes all children from the SPLA payroll to discourage them from remaining or joining the army. Implementation of the plan is behind schedule, as the SPLA drafted, but has yet to formally approve, the required terms of reference. The SPLA, however, launched a Child Protection Unit, with representatives at division, brigade, battalion, and company level, to oversee implementation of the plan, compliance with child protection standards at major SPLA bases, and removal of children from SPLA payrolls.
During the reporting period, the North Sudan DDR Commission (NSDDRC), the Security Arrangement Commission of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority, and UNICEF supported the first release of children from armed groups who are signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement. Of the 2,000 children’s names submitted by these groups for formal demobilization in all three states, 177 children were released in July 2009 and reunified with families during ceremonies in the North Darfur towns of Torra, Malha, and Kafod. It is unknown whether children were demobilized from the Sudan Armed Forces or associated militias during the year. In 2009, the NSDDRC and UNICEF signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to undertake family tracing activities, and began searching for potential partners to provide reintegration services for these children.
The Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC), established in 1999 to facilitate the safe return of abducted and enslaved individuals to their families, was not operational during the reporting period. Its most recent retrieval and transport missions took place in March 2008 with GOSS funding; since that time, neither the GNU nor the GOSS provided CEAWC with funding for the transport and reunification of previously identified abductees with their families. The GNU made no efforts to assist victims of abduction and enslavement in the country during the reporting period.
The government made limited efforts during the reporting period aimed at the prevention of trafficking. Neither the GNU nor the GOSS conducted any anti-trafficking information or education campaigns. Senior GOSS leadership reportedly participated in press conferences and seminars to raise awareness of the trafficking problem in southern Sudan. In 2009, the Southern Sudan Human Rights Commissioner requested assistance from the United Nations in developing an anti-trafficking plan. The government did not take any known measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. Sudan is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.